Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Chronicles

It's been a while since my last contribution to Sunday Scribblings. For this week's prompt I will keep with dictionary definition #2 of Chronicle and offer you a "detailed record or report," in this case straight from the joural I kept during my exchange year in Brasil in all its unaltered teenage-angsty glory.

When I wrote this I had just turned 16 years old and was on a boat trip through the Amazon with 28 fellow exchange students from around the world.

06 December, 1997

We packed up this morning and got ready to board the boat. I went to the supermarket to buy water, cookies and fruit. Then I went to town again to take pictures. Santarém was so different than Manaus or Presidente Figuereido. It was a dry, slow, poor town that had it's own hot, tropical beauty. There were little kids filling buckets with drinking water who looked scared of me until I'd smile.

We got on the boat and I'm sort of in shock. It's not an amazingly large ship or anything - it's 3 stories high, not too long. But, somehow 400 people fit on it. There are people packed together sleeping in redes (hammocks) - it's like a cattle car. We're staying in air-conditioned cabins, 4 people per room. It's incredibly squashed and I feel claustrophobic in our cabin. There's not even room to walk around. We watched a really sad movie about a little boy with AIDS - it made me homesick. We're going to be on this boad for the next 2 days. Aaahh!!

I was sitting near the rail of the boat when we set off and I got to see the "encontro das águas" (meeting of waters) of the Tapajós and Amazonas rivers. It was like a line of green against brown. I was sitting looking at the water and I began thinking abotu stuff. Who my friends really are, how I'm really alone when it comes down to it, my various experiences travelling, and home in the US. I was in a strange, pensiove mood which was a nice change.

07 December, 1997

Day two on the boat. Last night I slept more than I have in quite a while. I think it's from the lack of anything else to do. Last night, we went on a cachaça (sugarcane alcohol) mission. Tim bought it on the mainland and hid it in his shirt. Other than that, I spent the evening watching movies in our room.

Slept late this morning, took a cold shower in our small, rusty bathroom. Now we're all sitting on deck just hanging out and writing in gringo books and journals.

I feel weird. Sort of depressed, sort of bored, sort of confused. I have that panicky, trapped feeling about eating again. I feel fat - I can't escape it. I want to be sick so I can be skinny. I desperately want a scale, just so I can know how much I've gained or lost. I feel so jealous of K. sometimes. She has a perfect stomach and all the brazilians love her. She tries so hard and loves every activity we do. I feel inadequate.

I need to get off this boat. I need to occupy myself. I need some motivation not to eat. I need confidence. I need hope.

I've been feeling a bit homesick on this trip. I guess it's because I've had a lot of experiences that remind me of, or make me want to be with Mom. This was the first time I've gotten sick and thrown up without her - I want someone to hold my hair and stroke my face and hug me better. Also, the last time I was overnight on a boat was in Greece. This makes me remember what I was going through then. I feel desperate and alone.

But then I watch the brazilians here dance their seductive, latin dances and I think life will go on and thigns will be okay. These people live their lives packed into hammocks, waiting, waiting. Waiting an dwatchign the muddy river and the trees, the scenery that never seems to change. It's a slow, hot existence but they survive. I, also, will survivie.

My problems are different, pettier perhaps. I just need to keep my silver bracelet close to my heart, the knowledge from "The Power of One", the memories and lessons that are still in my home in New Mexico, my music, my photography, the memories of beaches - Grado, Greece, Tahiti, Hawaii, Brazil - and the knowledge I already have gotten here in Brazil, and I'll be okay. I can't give up, no matter how fat or lonely I feel. Each day I can start over.

I read back through these entries and, while I can literally remember the table on the boat deck I was sitting on and the pen I was using to write and the desperation of the moment as if it were yesterday, it seems like these adventures unfolded centuries ago and were the chronicle of a completely different person.

It makes me sort of sad to read back through my journals. I've wasted a lot of time already on the same issues, but at least I'm going through all this at my age and not 50 years from now.

Some things make me smile. I still love beaches and just thinking of collecting shells in the sand can make me instantly calm. We went to the beach today at Inhaca island and I collected shells and swam in the warm water for hours. It was exactly what I needed, just as it was back when I was 16.


Safiya said...

Aww baby! I felt so sad for you reading that, I wanted to give your 16yr old self a big hug.

At the same time being on the boat sounds amazing.

P.S Good to see you doing the Sunday Scribblings again.

Paris Parfait said...

It's nice that you've kept the journals, not only to remember, but to realise how far you've come - and that the important things haven't changed. xo

Alina said...

It's the same for me when it comes to old diaries and telling stories from a few years back with my friends. It seems to have happened years ago and somehow, in another lifetime.

[a} said...

So interesting to read. I totally envy your 16-yr old self (I mean, the Amazon??!!!).

gautami tripathy said...

Isn't it good to keep journals? Annals of our personal history in there! Keep it up.


Mandi said...

Thanks for your comment! I haven't seen "Blood Diamonds", precisely because I feared it would be disappointing, though it was certainly tempting -- I'd read that they'd done a lot of the filming in Mozambique. I don't know if it's playing in Maputo yet, but I would highly recommend seeing "The Last King of Scotland," about Idi Amin's reign in Uganda, if you can. Really accurately portrays Ugandan society. Absolutely well done!